With the health care debate largely over, now is the time to turn the heat up on our Senators to pass a strong clean energy and climate change bill.
Many lawmakers are declaring their support. And thousands of businesses have already signed up to support passing a bill. But we still need a handful of key undeclared senators to get on the bandwagon in support of passing a bill.
In the coming weeks, I am going to blog about these lawmakers so we can encourage them to support legislation that will put Americans to work in good jobs to strengthen our economy, slash dangerous pollution, and strengthen our national security.
The first one in the hot seat is the new Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown.
Granted, freshly-minted Senator Brown has a lot on his plate right now. He is still trying to find his way around the tunnels from the Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol. But even as he gets up to speed on all manner of Senate business, Senator Brown has a very important choice to make: Will he join Senator Lindsey Graham and other Republican lawmakers to become a real leader for climate action, or will he buy into the cynicism and complacency that currently paralyzes so much party politics nowadays?
It just depends which Scott Brown comes to the Senate floor to vote.
You see, before the Tea Party threw their support behind him, Senator Brown was dubbed a liberal Republican by nonpartisan fivethirtyeight.com.
He used to belong to Republicans for Environmental Protection. So-called Green Elephants include everyone from former Representative Sherwood Boehlert, whom I am proud to say is on the NRDC Action Fund's board of trustees, to members of local garden clubs.
Brown reflected those values in 2008 when he voted for Massachusetts to join a regional effort to reduce global warming pollution. At the time he said, "Reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Massachusetts has long been a priority of mine. Passing this legislation is an important step...towards improving our environment."
But in recent comments made during his campaign, Senator Brown was hedging his bets. When asked if he thought global warming was a big "fraud," Brown said:
"It's interesting. I think the globe is always heating and cooling....I just want to make sure if in fact...the earth is heating up, that we have accurate information, and it's unbiased by scientists with no agenda. Once that's done, then I think we can really move forward with a good plan."
I'll give Senator Brown the benefit of the doubt and consider that he is genuinely concerned about the science of global warming and wasn't just back-pedaling to get along with the Republican leadership.
In that case, I hope he and his staffers take the time to read the letter signed last week by 2,000 scientists that urged Congress to pass a climate bill. Or maybe they will read the statement issued by 19 scientists concluding that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was correct about its Amazon predictions and that the only flaw in the entire 2,880-page report involved Himalayan glaciers. Or maybe they will read the report that was originally commissioned by President George H. W. Bush and released last June in which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Pentagon all agreed that human-induced global warming was "unequivocal."
Right now, Senator Brown isn't saying much of anything about climate change, but I hope that will change.
I hope the real Scott Brown will stand up -- the one who has a sound record on climate change and other environmental issues.
That is the Scott Brown who could become a leader in the bipartisan effort to generate clean energy and create American jobs. That is the Scott Brown who would represent Massachusetts well.